- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2013

The White House has heard enough about Benghazi.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday blasted Senate Republicans for threatening to block Defense Secretary-nominee Chuck Hagel and John Brennan, nominated to head the CIA, in a quest for more information about what President Obama did on the night that terrorists killed four Americans in the U.S. Consulate in Libya.

“We have answered these questions,” Mr. Carney said. “The president found out about the attack in Benghazi in a meeting with his secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs from his national security adviser. He immediately ordered those two leaders to take every action necessary to try to position forces in a way that could assist in Benghazi and also potentially take action, if necessary, elsewhere, because of all that was enfolding around the region.”

He added that Mr. Obama was “regularly updated and kept appraised [sic] of events in Benghazi and in the region throughout that evening and into the night.”

“Those are the facts,” Mr. Carney said.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told lawmakers last week that he didn’t have any communication with the White House on the night of the Benghazi attack after informing Mr. Obama of the assault during a meeting at the White House late in the afternoon.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said on Sunday that the GOP should block Mr. Hagel’s nomination “until the White House gives us an accounting” of what the president did that night.

“Did the White House ever pick up the phone and call anyone in the Libyan government to help these folks?” he asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Mr. Carney labeled as “unfortunate … the continuing attempt to politicize an issue through nominees that themselves had nothing to do with Benghazi.”

“Senator Hagel, Mr. Brennan, they need to be confirmed,” Mr. Carney said. “They’re highly qualified candidates for their posts. And we call on the Senate to act quickly to do just that.”

Senate Democrats have scheduled a vote of the Armed Services Committee on Mr. Hagel’s nomination for Tuesday. Mr. Carney said it would be irresponsible of Republicans to hold up the nomination when U.S. troops are fighting a war in Afghanistan.

“It is clear that Senator Hagel is uniquely qualified to be secretary of defense, and it is clear that he has at least a substantial — a majority of senators who would vote to confirm him,” Mr. Carney said. “We need to move forward with this nomination and make sure we have a secretary of defense, which is a key post when it comes to our national security interests.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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